Ancient Iraqi sect calls for international help to prevent genocide

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Azzaman, August 5, 2014

The leader of an ancient and secretive Iraqi community has called on the United Nations and world leaders to safeguard his people against a possible genocide by militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

The appeal has come from Tahseen Bek, the supreme leader of Yazidis, an Iraqi minority that has preserved its distinct religion which draws heavily on Zoroastrianism with borrowings from Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

ISIS militants on Monday invaded Sinjar, the community’s largest stronghold in north-west Iraq with more than 200,000 inhabitants.

Sinjar is the Yazidis’ largest town in Iraq and is adorned with shrines and temples, all in conical shape dedicated the sect’s holy men.

The militants have blown up the shrines and forced Sinjar inhabitants to flee to nearby mountains.

Kurdish militias entrusted to defend the town were crushed by ISIS.

For the Yazidis Tahseen Beck is the emir or prince and holds authority over all religious and mundane matters.

The inhabitants of another major Yazidi town in northern Iraq, Shaikhan, has also received threats from ISIS to leave.

Tahseen Beck said his people were facing horrific conditions in Sinjar mountains with ISIS warning of killing anyone who refuses to convert to Islam.

A Yazidi activist in Sinjar Ali Kaabo told Azzaman by telephone that the militants had captured hundreds of women and wanted to use them for sexual slavery.

He said one child was dying almost every minute and buried on the slopes of Sinjar mountains.

“Our people have nowhere to go. Returning to their town means certain death and staying in the mountains means a slow death,” he said.

Vivian Dakheel the only Yazidi deputy in the Iraqi parliament read a statement on Tuesday in which she warned of a possible “genocide” if her people were left without assistance.

“ISIS has so far killed 500 Yazidis and took many women and girls prisoner in order to have them as bondmaids,” she said.